StartUp Academy — a program launched this month through Bain Capital Ventures — offers recent college graduates the chance to work at a startup company while learning entrepreneurial skills and working with innovative technologies.
“The best part about working at this startup is getting to work with a team that believes there is no engineering or business problem that’s too hard to solve,” Ailian Gan, a 2011 Wharton MBA graduate who works at BloomReach, wrote in an email. “I remember discussing a problem with one of our engineers early on. I started with, ‘I don’t know if this is too complicated…’ He quickly said, ‘No no, assume we can solve it, what would we build?’ It’s inspiring to work with people who carry that kind of attitude. ”
Although Gan is not part of the StartUp Academy, Bloomreach is one of the nine portfolio companies — companies that Bain Capital Ventures invests in — that students can be placed at through the recently launched StartUp Academy. Others include SurveyMonkey, Rent the Runway and Targetspot.
“One thing about our new program which is really exciting is that we basically have selected — and they’ve selected us — nine of our fastest growing portfolio companies to be part of the program,” Shannon Harrington, the recruiting leader for the StartUp Academy, said. “Basically what we wanted to do was figure out a way in which to add the most value to these companies that we could.”
“Honestly if I was at Penn when this program was around I probably would have done it,” said Sahil Gupta, a 2007 Wharton and Engineering graduate and an investor at Bain Capital Ventures, who works on a weekly basis with a few of the companies participating in the StartUp Academy.
He explained that it’s often hard for students to find information on startups and find one that is the right fit for them, especially because recent startups often don’t have the time and resources to recruit on college campuses.
“Specifically [the StartUp Academy] is definitely good for people who are in the Engineering School who are looking for opportunities in startups, but also it should be intriguing for any of the number of students at Penn who are interested in entrepreneurship,” Gupta said.
Harrington explained that there’s often a certain risk associated with going to work for a startup company. “I think one of the things that was so interesting to me is that a lot of students definitely thought startups were cool but thought it was too risky,” she said. Through the StartUp Academy, however, “the risk is mitigated by presenting students with companies that we are invested in and really believe are growing.”
In addition to working at one of Bain Capital Ventures’ portfolio companies, members of the StartUp Academy also have access to the managing directors at Bain Capital Ventures and have opportunities to participate in entrepreneurial events.
“You have great mentors, you get to teach yourself new things and work with awesome technology,” Harrington said.